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Friday, January 31, 2014

Ten Random Minutes: Mission Facebook Groups - pt. 1

#1 entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on June 19, 2013. She left for the Philippines on July 31st. In early August, the Philippines Olongapo Missionary Families group was opened on Facebook as a gathering place for family and close friends of the missionaries serving in that mission.

I remember the feelings as it began, I was nervous….What if no one wanted to join? What if, once it started, it was a complete flop? I had to make myself believe that it wouldn't be.

You know, I've learned that those feelings are so normal when something good's about to happen.

We started with just a few moms, but things started to grow and grow….and grow.

It's set up as a private group. Not secret because no one would know it existed, and definitely not public because then everyone can see everything and anyone Joe on Facebook can comment, but when someone looks for the group on Facebook, all they see is the list of members. No one but the members of the group know what's shared there.

Anything we post there, remains there. Believe me, we've tried to share pictures on our private walls, and unless we load them onto our own computers, there's no way to share directly.

This was a video created just prior to Christmas. The Mission President took it and posted it in the group. I felt fortunate that there was a mom who knew just how to retrieve it from the group, so it's not impossible, just difficult….

It's a great blessing to hear the news and see the faces of the people my daughter is serving and serving with. It is an additional blessing to have her Mission President as part of the group. I will write more about that in a future post, but it is indescribably touching to wake in the morning to see my daughter's face and know that that photo was just taken a few hours before.

After a number of months of being the only administrator, I realized that if anything ever happened to me, there would be no one to take over and do the behind-the-scenes group stuff, so my dear friend joined as co-administrator.

I found that running a Facebook group is SUPER simple. People request to join, we check them out, and decide if they should be there. If so, we add them and welcome them in front of the group, asking that they introduce themselves. If we feel that they don't, we reject them--nothing said. If we're not sure, a private message is sent. Let's just say we're super picky about who joins. We want the group to be a place where families of the missionaries can feel safe and that we're all among friends.

I have more to share on this topic….A lot more. For today, this is my ten. If you have a child serving a mission, see if you can find a mission group on Facebook. Ideally, you need a group just for the family members of missionaries. If one doesn't exist, make one. It's easy. If you need help, find me on Facebook. I'd happily guide you through it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ten Random Minutes: Connecting with Moms

Okay, back to the task at hand. I want you to know that I am totally writing off the cuff here, so I don't know beforehand what's going to emerge. Forgive the goofy trains of thought, etc.

Today, I'm going to go back two days to the paragraph I was writing when the timer went off. This may end up going a completely different direction than I originally intended, but I'm going to throw it out there anyway:

When my daughter first got her mission call, I was told by friends who'd had children serve in the past, about a group called "Missionary Moms." I have to say that it was a good starting point for me. A bit archaic, Missionary Moms is an email group. These seem to be the kinds of groups that formed P.F. (Pre-Facebook). You join, and then you start getting emails from anyone else that has joined. In my case, I was getting emails from anyone else in the group who had a kid heading to any of the twenty-plus missions in the Philippines.

I am thankful for the connections Missionary Moms provided when this journey began. I was able to find other moms who were in the same situation I was--getting a daughter or son ready for serving in the Philippines.

The first mom I connected with had a daughter heading to the Tacloban Mission. After a little while, I started to find other moms who had daughters heading to Olongapo. One was even reporting to the Missionary Training Center on the same day as #1. That was an exciting find. #1 connected with this young woman on Facebook, and although they weren't companions, they did end up becoming very good friends.

I really didn't spend much time waiting around for emails from Missionary Moms. It seems that not many moms know about that service anymore. It was, however, just enough of a stepping-off point. When I'd connect through an email, we'd find each other on Facebook. That was the much better way to find people. It was more instantaneous--you could chat in real time; no delays while waiting for the next email to come through.

The one thing I REALLY wanted, though, after getting a taste of connecting with these other moms whose kids would be serving with mine, was a Facebook group full of them. Missionary Moms said they'd started a Facebook group for every mission in the world. If there weren't enough members to be had, these groups were combined with other missions.

I searched and searched for one, but never did find one under the heading of my daughter's mission. I found some groups for other missions (like the one that exists for the mission I served in--Japan Sendai), but those groups were full of members of the Church who live in that area, returned missionaries, former mission presidents and their wives, and really anyone who has any interest in that mission. I decided that I'd see if I could make one with the people I'd found who had kids serving there, and see if we could make it go.

That's where I will end for today--my time is up.

I just want to add one note before I conclude. I am a firm believer that Facebook can be a tool for either
extreme evil or extreme good. I really feel that you find what you look for. I also believe STRONGLY that EVERY mission in the world NEEDS such a page--not just a group for anyone interested in that mission, but specifically, for the families of the missionaries who serve there.

I will explain more of why I feel this way so strongly in the days to come.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ten Random Minutes: Sad Missionary Moms

This is as tough-love post. If you get your feelings hurt easily, either gird up your loins and trudge forward, being willing and ready to forgive, or don't read this post.

Consider yourself forewarned…..

Okay, I'm straying from the Facebook topic. If I have time to get back to that today, I'll complete those thoughts then.

I think for today, with my ten minutes, I want to throw a bit more of a preface out there.

I have a peeve. I'm not sure how or why I have this peeve, but I do. I know I used to do it, and maybe I still do at times, but somehow I've learned a bit of how to overcome it. I think it's from being married to the kind of guy who doesn't do this.

In short, I can't stand it when people sit around and gripe or moan or complain about things just to gripe or moan or complain.

Let me clarify…..I think it's a complete waste of time to just sit there feeling sorry for yourself with no intentions of doing anything to make your situation better.

Let me clarify further…..I miss my daughter. I do. But, the alternative, that of having her come home, would be MUCH worse! I love what she's doing and where she is. I love that she's touching lives and having her own changed at the same time--exponentially. I love that she's serving the Lord and growing closer to Him and really creating a relationship with Him. What could be better than that?….Being home? NO WAY!

There are times when I chime in on my Facebook wall that I miss her. I do. No question. She's one of my very dearest, closest, sweetest friends, but I'm not going to sit and perseverate on the idea that she's gone and "woe is me," etc. What a TOTAL waste of time! So, I can promise you that, while I may write that, I'm not sitting there wiping my face on my sleeve, dripping saltwater on the couch. It's really just because some Taylor Swift song has come on the radio and my daughter has entered my mind.

Lately, I've run across a lot of crying, wailing missionary moms. Don't
get me wrong. I don't mean to criticize. Everyone deals with stuff in different ways, and if that works for you, great. But, eventually, you've got to put your big girl panties on and leave your kid to the Lord and His teaching. Yes, every situation is different, but regardless, when he/she accepted that call, Heavenly Father promised that come what may, He's got his/her back. Trust!

In this day, we are very close technologically to everyone. You know lots of things that are in my closet, and I know some of what's in yours, but sometimes there has to be a distance. For example, my daughter's Mission President is in our Facebook group. Not many greater men exist, as far as I'm concerned. What a privilege for my daughter to get to serve under such a man's leadership. Because he's in the group, I could, at any moment, Facebook message him and ask him the scoop. I could tell him how I feel things should be. I totally could, and I'm aware of this power that Facebook has given to all of us. But, when my daughter submitted those mission papers, I committed that this was her baby--not mine. She belongs to the Lord, not me. I need to take a few giant steps backward.

No, I am not the kind who likes to sit around feeling sorry for myself. If there's something I can DO to feel productive and something I can DO to help alleviate those feelings, I will. I have heard the words: "Wow! My mom was never that involved in my mission" from a few people. Back in the day of handwritten letters, envelopes, and stamps, they couldn't be. But when I receive a transfer letter about my daughter from the mission home, it encourages us to "be a part of your daughter’s missionary service by writing to your daughter’s investigators and new converts, and express your love and your testimony of the Gospel."

This gives me an opportunity to be an influence for good on my daughter's mission. Am I in her face trying to control her actions or what happens to her next? No. I figure, I am not involved in "my daughter's" mission. I am, however, involved with the Philippines Olongapo Mission. I care about the people of that area of the world, and I care about those who serve there. I want to see everyone there succeed.

Because of that, there have been experiences that have opened up. There have been things to do. There have been wonderful experiences. Do these involve my daughter? No, not directly, but they do touch the lives of those she serves and those she serves with, and therefore, yes, they do involve her.

If you're sitting around missing a missionary, isn't that wonderful? Wonderful that you have that kind of bond in a world where so many don't….but seriously, would you ever want to deny him/her this experience? This once in a lifetime chance?

If you're looking for something to do to get past those feelings, get up and do. There is so much good to be done, and you have so much good to give. Use your energy on blessing someone's life instead of feeling so sorry about yours.

There are missionaries everywhere. There are some who receive nothing from home. There are some for whom there is no "home." Have you wondered about them? That is where your energy can be well spent. Then, there are those your missionary rubs shoulders with daily--people they teach, members in the ward they're serving in. How can you buoy them up? How can you let them know that you know they exist and that you care about them.

There really is so much to be done. This is just one small way to keep the good going and growing in this world.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ten Random Minutes: Facebook's Role

Ten minutes was hard to come by today. Here it is past my bedtime, and I'm eking one last ten minute period out of an already very stuffed full day.

I need to share a bit about mission Facebook groups. Now, forgive me, I've taken cold medicine tonight--the tell-tale sore throat has started in, so it's time to start in on the meds before it gets too much worse, but that may just have something to do with how this post turns out. It also doesn't help that my husband's sitting right here to my right watching some auction show. In my ear, I keep hearing "he-be-be-ba-de-9,000….he-be-be-be-ba-de 10,000….." Ugh! Focus is just not easy to come by at this point in my day.

Okay, so let me get to Facebook groups. It's funny. You either love Facebook or you hate it. Is anyone really moderate on this topic? I happen to be a lover of Facebook. I think there is so much good that it has to offer. My husband, as a middle school principal, HATES Facebook. Shall I add, with a fiery, burning passion? He sees the terrible things kids do with it and the trouble it causes. I am of the mind that, like most things in life, you find what you look for. I seek for all the good that Facebook has the potential for.

I love that Facebook connects me to people. When you're mom to a large brood, connection with anyone but those people you live with becomes a bit of a challenge. Facebook, however, makes connections easy.

When my daughter first got her mission call, I was told about a group called "Missionary Moms." I have to say that it was a good starting point for me. A bit archaic, Missionary Moms is an email group. These seem to be the kinds of groups that formed P.F. (Pre-Facebook). You join, and then you start getting emails from anyone else that has joined. In my case, I was getting emails from anyone else in the group who had a kid heading to the Philippines.

Oh, my goodness! My ten minutes is already up. I am going to grab the paragraph I just wrote and use that for my first paragraph tomorrow. Yah, that's probably cheating on my ten minute rule, but let's just call it a little boost. Plus, it's a good way to start what I want to talk about. More tomorrow, when I'm not loopy from cold meds and the last hour, and don't have some dude selling pigs in my right ear (at least, I hope). Can't wait to go climb in my bed. It's been a very long day.

Okay, so much for sleep….I just checked Facebook one last time before heading upstairs and learned that there have been more changes for our missionary daughter…..

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ten Random Minutes: Blessings of Being a Missionary Mom

I have so much to share, but I sit down, and it overwhelms me. There is so much! So many miracles and tender mercies that I've witnessed. How do I capture it all? If I only write part and then drop the ball, will I remember it later? At this point, because I haven't been writing, I fear that I've forgotten so much already. I feel that I won't do what's happened justice.

Well, I'm going to go for it. Believe it or not, where I am in life right now requires that I set myself a timer. I can't neglect my other duties by sitting here and writing for too long, but I'm going to trust that as I write, details will come back to me, and I will trust that ten measly minutes will be enough to say what needs to be said. There will be ten minutes more tomorrow.

Seriously, I don't know where to begin.

Awhile back, I mentioned my daughter's mission and how it has brought blessings. I really want to expound upon that, so that you can understand and so that I have a record of just what blessings I've been aware of. Many of these blessings include others. I have not spoken to these people to get their permission to use their names, so for now, I will merely describe them and their roles in these things that have happened. If you know that one of these people I describe is you, and you don't mind my using your name, please contact me.

I don't know if I ever shared how much I doubted as I sent in my papers for my own mission. I really wondered if it was the right path for me. I am the kind of person who wants to know "why" about everything. It's just my nature. Once I understand why, I move forward whole-heartedly. Back all those years ago, I didn't know why. I prayed and moved forward, never really receiving the confirmation that what I was doing was right. I never got the "no" either, so I continued.

All these years later, I see the difference. As a mom to a missionary, I feel her pains and her joys. I feel them deeply, empathetically. I understand. I also trust in the learning process that she is experiencing. Been there; done that. I don't doubt that she feels tuggings in her heart to do certain things and to turn from other things. Knowing my daughter, I understand that she is much better at this than I ever was, and it makes me so happy to have that assurance.

I also understand that our trip to Japan together was inspired. I now understand at least part of the why of that. She needed to go for both of us. As for me, I needed to see her in action. I needed to see how she responded to this new situation in a new country. I needed to see her adapt and strive to learn the language (even if only for a very short time). I needed to see her knit together with a people that were foreign to her. She didn't let the language become a barrier. She served with all her heart. She was willing to sacrifice her own comfort for theirs.

I have no doubt that she is where she is supposed to be now. Unlike me, she doesn't need to know the whys of this call. She knows strongly that she is where she is supposed to be. I am so pleased with this. She is made of far tougher stuff than I ever was.

With this, her call, have come opportunities for service for our whole family. They have been like seeds that are gradually planted but quickly grow and bloom. This is where it becomes hard to write. Which do I start with? How do I transmit, through writing, the nature of these things so that you understand that none of these really have anything to do with me…..I didn't start them. Well, in some cases, most cases, it was a matter of walking forward and finding myself involved in something that has evolved into something much larger…..In short, miracles. They weren't planned. They just moved--like walking into a dark room and the automatic light turns on, and you find that you're surrounded with amazing things you weren't aware even existed.

Here is a short list of what I want to cover in these 10 minute sessions:
Facebook groups
Tacloban missionaries

My 10 minutes is up for today. I'm thinking this is going to be therapeutic. So many things have been swirling around my head lately. I need to get them out.

Lately, I have been feeling that there is so much evil growing in this world. For the bulk of society to deny the existence of an evil force is dangerous. Somehow, this seems to make his influence grow. The only thing I can compare it to is kind of like at the end of a cartoon, you know how the screen darkens and a large circle of light shrinks around the final scene? That's how this feels.

I have had so many frustrating things I've wanted to write about--stupid things society is choosing to do, but I have decided that my energy is better focused keeping that circle from shrinking too quickly. I feel like I need to reach inside and keep my hand there on the good to keep the circle from closing never to reopen. If enough of us can cling to the good that still exists, it won't close completely.

So, I will share these things that have brought me so much joy these past few months. I will share the good that still exists, and more than anything else, I will share that there is still hope and still so much that we are being cared for and watched after by a power much bigger than we are. Miracles have not ceased.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

#1's Weekly Email: Week #32

Week 24: Wala akong creative headings ngayon... Sayang naman

This week has been a good one. Not too much eventful happened. Kind of just a regular week. 

Monday, Sister L's birthday! Happy Birthday! Woohoo! Did you know, fun fact here, when Filippinos have their birthdays, they prepare food for everyone else and then tons and tons of people come over to their house and eat their food. A little bit different than what selfish Americans do haha joke-lang. Anyways, Monday was good. We had our normal P-day and got tons of stuff done and then went out to work. We went and taught Sister E who is a recently returned less-active but we like to visit her anyways. She's kind of creepy... She's old and lives alone in this huge house. She's also a big fan of fortune telling and Sister C's got some fun stories about her from when she and Sister S went and taught her one time. But anyways, it was a good lesson and we helped improve her day (her words, not mine) and yeah. And then we walked around a bit more and I2L-ed a bunch of people.

Tuesday: We walked around one part of San Pedro Palcarangan that we had never been in before. We went and contacted a lot more people too. We taught three new people named Sister Am, Sister J and Sister Ai. Sister Am is an older lady and she's had a really hard life too. Something about her daughter getting a "husband" when she was 14 years old and moving out? Not exactly sure because she was talking really fast. And then something else about something bad happening to her son (that one was not fun to hear about and I understood every part of it. Gonna spare you the details right now). I love being a missionary but sometimes I definitely feel like a psychiatrist. I get to hear about everyone's problems. And sometimes (especially with the older ones) they don't have anyone to talk to about their lives and so they just love to spill everything when they talk to us. So that was an interesting lesson but that's ok because we're gonna go back and try to help her. 

We also got to teach the girlfriend of Brother K, Sister M. She's awesome. She actually lived in Japan for 8 years with her last husband and she has 2 kids. And she tried to teach us a little bit of Japanese. I am so glad that I'm serving where I'm serving. That language is so flippin hard. She used to live about an hour north of Sendai. I forgot what the place was called. But anyways. We taught her lesson one and she got it all. She said that she believes that it's true and so we'll see where it goes from there. 

Wednesday: We went and taught Sister M again. She's another older lady who looooooooooooooooves to talk to us. Her kids are part of one of those new Filippino religions that has some very... how do I say this nicely... *interesting* beliefs. Well anyways, Sister M went to church with her kids last Sunday for the first time. After church she said that her daughter asked her how she felt... This was her reply. She felt like she was only a visitor there and then she said that she felt more from when "the mormons taught her because we cheer her up every time we teach her." YES. Point one for the Mormons haha We then proceeded to teach her about the Plan of Salvation and she said that she was grateful for us, that we always come and visit her. And that we are a blessing in her life. Well that definitely made us feel good :) We then walked to Dela Paz and taught a less-active who has a gambling problem and maybe some other problems. It's always a nice reminder for me that even though we're members of the true church, we're not perfect. Everyone has problems.... And our job, as missionaries is to help them fix their problems. Anyways, that was an interesting lesson too.

And then we went and taught Brother J who is a new investigator. He's 13 years old but he is tiny. Like tiny tiny tiny. When I first met him, I thought he was 8 years old. But anyways, he's awesome and we've been teaching him a little bit at a time so it gets stuck in his brain. 

Thursday was interesting because I got sick. I haven't been sick my whole mission but I guess it happens to everyone. We worked for 3 hours but something just wasn't right with me. I was freezing cold, and it was like I didn't have any energy at all. We I2L-ed and then we ended up coming home. I went straight to bed and slept for a really really long time. 

Friday was another sick day. I think I was just physically exhausted. My body couldn't take it anymore. So we got me some vitamin C and some rest and now I'm good as new. 

Saturday was a baptism day for Sister L and Sister J and Sister P. So of course, we went to support. But nothing ever starts on time here. I'm talking like an hour late... So we got to teach Brother J again, and then finally, the baptism started. It was great. It was the baptism for 2 teenage girls who are hilarious and the funniest thing is that they used to live in Masinloc in my old area haha weird... But yeah. AND Sister Ca came up for the baptism :) She brought us brownies from Manila. I almost died. They were like homemade ones! Like from America! :) Sooooo happy. Anyways, after the baptism, we went to the house of a less-active that we'd never met before. They're great and we committed them to come to church and said we were going to come pick them up.

Sunday: We went to the house of the less-active to pick them up and they were actually there. We've tried to do that in the past but they've always flaked on us. But there they were :) We all went to church together and then Brother R showed up and got confirmed. Me and Sister C have missed that guy. He's been working in Manila and he says he's exhausted. Well that's what happens when you get a new job.
After church we went around and taught lots more people. And then had a Family Home Evening. I love FHEs here because they're always soooooooooooo happy. 

But yeah. So that was my week. I guess it was pretty eventful and definitely fun. 

Thank you for all your love and support and prayers. This is the true church, and I'm where I need to be right now. 

Mahal ko kayo!
Until next week!
-Sister Hess

Sunday, January 19, 2014

#1's Weekly Email: Week #31

Well that was unexpected...

This week has been a good one but there were some unexpected things that happened. 

Monday we were still companions with Sister P because there weren't any transfers yet. We went and taught one of our investigators that is house-sitting for a family that is in California right now. That house is HUGE! The funny thing is that it would be normal sized if I was home right now. Wow, I am not excited for the culture shock when I get home.That was an interesting lesson because Brother C, the investigator that is 60 years old, has a whoooooole bunch of questions that could be easily answered if he would just use his brain. My favorite question that he asked was, "Which is more powerful these days, money or God?" What?! How is that even a question? Whatever. Anyways, his problem is that he's not willing to read the Book of Mormon and pray and search for the answers himself. He'd rather rely on us, the missionaries. So sad. 

After Brother C, we went and taught Brother E who is another old man and investigator but he's a lot more fun to teach. He actually asks questions that proves he's interested and wants to learn. And he always prays and reads his scriptures and is trying to stop his cigarette addiction. His main problem is that he never has time to go to church... But hopefully that will change soon

Tuesday was a good one too. We were still a threesome which I liked a whole lot. It was so fun. Sister J (our recent convert who is so completely golden it's not even funny) is back from the hospital. Her older sister had an accident and J was watching over her for the last little bit. Her older sister is now out of the hospital but she still doesn't know how to speak and she's lost most of her memories too. Please pray for her. 
And then we taught Brother R and that was a good one. Normal-lang. He's still awesome and humble and yup. Nothing new.

We taught some more lessons and they were all good too (sorry, running out of time, gotta focus on the important things). Later that night we finally got the text of what was happening for transfers. We all thought that Sister C was going to be transferred because she's been here for so long. But nope. We're still here and so is Sister P. The change is that Sister Je was coming here. My best friend from Masinloc! I might have started squealing and dancing around our Branch President's house haha

Wedneday was weird because we were the only ones that didn't get to go to Olongapo and pick up the new missionaries coming to our areas. But we went out and worked anyways. Everyone got here safely and then we found out that Sister C and I are the only ones that get to live in our apartment. Sister P is now in a threesome with Sister L and Sister Je which is super funny because the two white girls are fairly tall and Sister P is tiny. And then came the not so fun part. Every night before we go to bed we go over to the other sisters' apartment and we talk and chat and all that good stuff. The problem is that someone always brings up ghosts. What the heck. Don't talk about ghosts right before I'm about to go back to our dark, empty apartment where only two of us live there.... that is not nice at all. And it happens every night! Whatever. 
Thursday was good too. Nothing big happened. Just taught the lovely people over in San Pedro again. 
Friday was good. Sorry. Not many details because not much happened again.
Saturday was interesting though. We went and taught Brother R and he told us that he finally found work. But! It's in Manila and that means that he has to move there. And to top it all off, he might not be here for his baptism on the 25th. Not sure about Sister C but when he told us that, I started praying like no other... There had to be a way for him to be baptized before he left for good. After our lesson for him we all went to the church for the Area Broadcast where the area presidency presented our area goals. It was a good broadcast.

Sunday: Went to church, Brother R got interviewed for the second time and he passed (woohoo!) and then the branch president pulled us all into his office. He had heard that Brother R was leaving and he said that if he wanted to, Brother R could be baptized that very day right after church. And so that's what happened. He was baptized and we were all super happy! And his testimony afterwards was great. He has so much conviction and someday, he's gonna be a great leader in the church. I'm so grateful that I got to be a part of his conversion and I'm a part of this great work.  I know that God knows what needs to happen for all of his children in order for them to receive the gospel in their lives. 

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. I love you all.

Mahal ko kayo
Until next week,
-Sister Hess

Sunday, January 12, 2014

#1's Weekly Email: Week #30

Good golly it's cold here.... Oh wait... it's only 70 degrees... SO WHY AM I FREEZING?

Well this week has been interesting. Just a heads up.... If you're assigned to be housemates with a missionary who is going home... You're going to get trunky and homesick. Just so you know. That was my big discovery this week. 

So yeah, it was fun at the same time. Sister B is going home on Wednesday and let me tell you, I'm gonna miss her so much. And trunkiness is a very bad thing for a missionary. 

So Monday of this week was fun. Normal p-day. Got up, did laundry (the usual way, by hand. I won't need a washing machine when I get home. Just get me two big buckets and a washing board)  ate breakfast, went and emailed everyone (Hi again!), found out that both of my flashdrives have viruses on them (note to the people preparing for a mission: if you take flashdrives make sure they have an anti-virus installed in them) and then went to the grocery store (we now have a legit grocery store here in Lubao that opened about a week or two ago). Nothing super exciting happened. We went and taught Brother R again and then went home and ate dinner. Normal lang. Oh and update on Brother R, he's fine. Still preparing for his baptism on January 25th and still taking the discussions. 

Tuesday we had a district meeting and that was fun. Our zone is awesome. All the elders are crazy. Yup, the usual :)

After the meeting We had exchanges again. Surprise! So I got to be companions with Sister P :) She's very very quiet but I learned that day that actually she's not. Brother M worked with us (he's 17, turning 18 this month and waiting for his mission call. I keep threatening him that he's gonna be called to America and then he's gonna have to learn to speak English hehe). It was actually a super fun day. We went to their area and got to teach a bunch of lessons. Two of them were to two investigators that were going to be baptized on Saturday (don't worry. it was successful and they were baptized). I seriously love the Filippino people so much. They're so sweet and caring. And it's so easy for me to be myself around them. I'm so grateful that I was called here on my mission. It's the perfect place for me.

Anyways, not sure why but I was in a really weird mood and was cracking jokes the whole time. That's probably why it was so fun. Because I was so happy :) It's so true that your attitude can affect the whole day and you get to choose what kind of attitude you want to have.

Wednesday was good too. We taught a  lesson to Sister Ba. She's not really interested in the discussions because she's always busy but she's always willing to chat with us and feed us food. She's a preschool teacher but she's 54 years old and she feels like she's too old to be doing her job anymore. Needless to say, she was feeling kind of depressed and so we decided to cheer her up and share a short message with her. She said afterwards that she felt a lot better and she actually started crying a bit. I love being a missionary. We really can help people and change their lives. This was the day that we started our work in San Roque (which is the farthest part of our area) and then walked through Dela Paz and then kept walking until we got to San Pedro Palcarangan. My shoes got a little more worn down. 

Thursday, we went and taught the usual loverly people out in San Pedro Palcarangan again. They're all still doing good. We have started teaching the 9 year old cousin of one of our recent converts. It's so fun to teach her because she's smart but at the same time it's so different because we have to dumb down the lessons and be overly enthusiastic all the time. I am usually exhausted after those lessons. Anyways, her name is I and she's very sweet. Her little sister who is 4 or 5 is named D and she's a funny little girl. She's very very talkative and little Filippino kids are the cutest because they say the funniest things. The other day she made Sister C feel her arm muscles and said that she was "Astig" or cool in English because she has muscles. Why does she have muscles? How nice of you to ask. "Because she eats a lot of rice." hahaha trust me, it's funnier in Tagalog and when you understand :) 

We also showed the Testaments to Brother R. It was a really good lesson. No matter how cheesy that movie is, I still love watching it because the Spirit is so strong and it always reminds me how much my Heavenly Father loves me and all of us. Also reminded all of us that we need to prepare now because we never know when the second coming of Jesus Christ will be, but trust me, it's coming. Also reminded us that we need to make our faith as strong as it can be.
Saturday, we had a baptism. Sister B's last baptism. Sister J and Sister R were baptized and they were so happy. It was a great day. And after that we had Sister B's farewell party. We played a lot of games and had some fun and tried to ignore that fact that she's leaving. 

Sunday, church again. We went to church, of course, and then we had a meeting afterwards with Brother L, the branch mission leader. After that we went home and got ready to work. Brother K worked with us and that was fun. We taught Sister I again and Brother R again and then we had to go home because President Q was coming to pick up Sister B. He came and got her and she hugged us all one last time. I'm not gonna lie, I started crying. You know how I used to be so unemotional and hard as a rock? Yeah. that #1 is gone.... I'm a mushy marshmellow now :P But yeah, so she left and then all three of us, me, Sister C, and Sister P went back out to teach one more lesson. We all hopped on Brother K's tricycle and headed back out. I was wearing a sweater because it was so flippin cold. We went and taught the M family who are partially less-active and had a good time to distract us from the fact that Sister B is gone. And then we came back home and planned and ate dinner and then got ready for bed. And that was this week. Hope you enjoy all the details, Mom and the pictures too. 

Thank you for all the love and support that you give me. 
I love you all. Until next week,
-Sister Hess

Sunday, January 5, 2014

#1's Weekly Email: Week #29

This week has been a lot of fun. Happy 2014 to all of you! Guess what?! I'm coming home this year! :D but in December.... Got a while but I'm sure it'll just fly by. 

This week I've learned a lot as usual and changed a lot too but that's what's supposed to happen on your mission diba? 

On Monday, we had a family home evening. Let's just say that it was super super fun. We gave a lesson on the atonement and then played a whole bunch of games. We played Booga-booga which is a secret game that you have to go through an initiation before you can play. Hess Family, don't worry. Sister Lowe and I have plans to make you all members :) That was super entertaining. 

Tuesday, we had a district meeting and only worked until 6 because we had a curfew. We went to San Pedro Palcarangan and taught Brother R. We taught about becoming truly converted. I shared the verse with him from Alma about faith being like a seed and taking care of it and making it grow. It was a good lesson and we all learned a lot from it. That's my favorite part of teaching. No matter how many times I've taught a lesson before I always come away from it with new knowledge and a stronger testimony about the subject. It's pretty excellent. We also taught Sister J which is always interesting because even though she's a recent convert she's so awesome that it seems like she's been a member for a really really long time. The reteaching is almost pointless for her haha. After those two appointments, it was time to go home. So we hurried home and changed super quick. Then we went over to the other sisters' apartment and started the party. We played a whole bunch of games (including Booga-booga) and painted our faces Polynesian style with lipstick. Pretty awesome. We played a game with flour that eventually turned into a flour war and we were all WHITE. Needless to say, it was a super fun new years eve and a great way to start off 2014. 

On Wednesday, we didn't have any appointments. Everyone was busy. So we went from members house to members house. It was another very good very fun day. Not much to share about Wednesday.

Thursday, we went back to work. We were in San Pedro again. And we got to teach at almost every single appointment that we had planned. That rarely ever happens. We taught Sister J again and Sister C (who is an investigator that doesn't know how to read even though she's in her 30's and has 2 kids, interesting) and Brother R and the M family (less-actives for a really long time) and the Re family too (less-actives as well). Pretty fun :) I love missionary work. 

Fridays are always interesting here in Lubao. We go out and work because we have faith :) And so we went to San Roque first and taught Brother Ro. He told us that he's going to go work in Manila so we won't be able to teach him again for a while. So sad. And then we went from appointment to appointment and no one was home. We went to go teach one less-active and met his son, Ru who is 18 years old and isn't a member yet. The last missionaries actually taught him but he hadn't been taught for a while because he was always busy. So we taught him the first lesson again. He's great and super smart. The only problem is that he never has any time. We'll see what happens with him. 

Saturday was interesting because all of our appointments were either not at home or sick. So we went and taught the less-actives. 

Sunday was great. Because of all of our hard work with the less-actives, we had 13 less-actives come to church. YEEEE!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Weekly Family Activities (with Lots and LOTS o' Links)

Monday night we sat down as a family and created a new and improved list of activities our family can do together. I was shocked at how many of them involved food (Ironic thing…as I went to write the last sentence, "at" came out as "eat"). One child would give an idea and another would chime in with, "Yah, and we can get ice cream!" or something like that. It was all quite comical. What can I say? We like to eat….Food is good.

Our goal was to come up with 52. Everyone moaned about this. They decided they'd each give two ideas, and we'd sit down again in a few months and do it again. Umm, no. Not going to happen. So, I forced the issue. It really wasn't that hard after we got going. We ended up with 71.

Here are the ideas we came up with:

  • movie night at a theater (most likely this one)
  • restaurant - this is my favorite at the moment, but who knows, this one's close to home and there's something for everyone--plus, there's pie! I guess it will depend on the night when we do it.
  • zoo - this, for our family will require a membership, but it's such a deal compared with regular admission.
  • OMSI - again, membership
  • -children's museum - for this one, there is a free night once a month. It's surprising how much fun we all have here.
  • Portland art museum - they have a free night too.
  • picnic
  • hot chocolate - in our family's opinion, this is the BEST hot cocoa, especially when prepared with milk.
  • swimming - we buy a membership to this one too. It's a GREAT deal for a large family.
  • Gilbert House - One of our favorites, and yes, you guessed it…membership. Only, the OMSI and Gilbert House memberships can be used for each other, so you only have to have a membership for one or the other. With the Gilbert House membership, you also have free access to the Children's Museum. Plus, the Gilbert House membership is a bit less expensive.
  • park - we particularly like this one.
  • water fountain - there are a few around our area, but I think we like this one best.
  • basketball at the school
  • Krispy Kreme - no explanation required.
  • water fight
  • temple - you don't have to be LDS to visit the temple grounds. It's a very peaceful place--a good place to go when you need to collect your thoughts. We will visit the visitor's center while we're there. The kids really enjoy the things they have there.
  • the Columbia River Gorge - my favorite place in the world!
  • pizza movie night
  • barbecue
  • Ikea - #6's favorite place in the world (and the kid's been to Disneyland?!) It's all because of the meatballs.
  • marshmallow construction
  • cookies - it'll be these without the M&Ms.
  • chubby bunny - not being enormous fans of marshmallows, the hubs and I might just sit this one out and cheer the others on, but who knows.
  • Waffle Window - What?! Food?
  • Saturday Market 
  • hot dog eating contest - I don't know, this might rank right down there with marshmallows. But for the sake of good ol' family fun and competition, I might be able to choke down one or two.
  • Goodwill scavenger hunt - something was said also about everyone looking for the most hideous outfit. The winner buys it and the losers take turns wearing it. 
  • basketball game - this is the kids' favorite family activity.
  • tie dye
  • soccer game - we usually buy a pizza, sit of the field and eat, and then go kick the ball around for a bit.
  • make pizzas
  • make wrapping paper
  • make Christmas ornaments
  • hike Council Crest
  • family pics - this, believe it or not, was one of the kids' ideas.
  • hide and seek
  • frisbee
  • capture the flag
  • library cultural passes
  • Powell's Books
  • candy bar game - we did this last night, and I, very joyfully, ended up with my three favorites. Here's a very brief overview (our friends, the Boswells, taught us this game)….You get a bunch of candy bars (more than the number of people playing), two or more dice, and a small bowl for the dice to be shaken in. Everyone sits in a circle. The candy bars are placed in the center. Various people are given a bowl and a die. Those people roll the die one time. If they roll a six or a one, they get to grab a candy bar from the pile. They pass the bowl to the next person. Any time a six or a one shows up, the person who rolled it gets a candy bar. When all the candy bars are taken, a timer is set (we set ours for five minutes last night), and the play continues, only you grab the candy bars from each other. At the end of the game, some will have quite a few bars, some will have none. In our family, those who have lots share with those who have few. You get to eat what you win….Imagine that…Food.
  • drive-in movie - we only have one of these left in our area that I'm aware of.
  • game night - this is the new game we got for Christmas. The kids love it.
  • Sauvie Island
  • Skate World
  • Candy Basket
  • Voodoo Donuts
  • TCBY
  • ice skating
  • froyo - #1 worked here before her mission. Of the places we've tried, it's our favorite.
  • Simon says
  • sardines - this is one of our most favorite games. It always surprises me how creative our kids can be.
  • coloring night
  • heart attack
  • fork
  • make blankets
  • KFC - I wonder whose idea this was…..Hmm…I don't know….
  • movie marathon - Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Mr. Bean (the series, not the movies), and others have been done in our house, but the BEST by FAR was this marathon which we did one New Year's Eve.
  • Donut Day - better than Krispy Kreme, in our opinion. Plus, the owner's kids used to go to the school where my husband was principal, so we like to give them our business….a lot.
  • go to a school play
  • Pita Pit
  • Rocket Fizz
  • geocache
  • frozen chocolate, die, clothing, fork and knife game - instructions for this game came from my dear Aussie friend Leanne. Her daughter's serving in the same mission with #1. You have a frozen bar or block of chocolate, a dice, gloves and other pieces of clothing, and a knife and fork. You decide which number a person has to roll before they can dive into the chocolate. When you roll that number, you jump up and start putting on the gloves and other clothing items. After all clothing items are on, you grab the knife and fork and attempt to cut into the chocolate. You get to eat any piece that you cut off. When someone else rolls the number, you're done. You put down the knife and fork and remove the clothing. That person puts them on and it starts all over again. (Leanne, I hope I got this right. If not, please correct me. Thanks!)
  • Spoons card game
  • Uno
  • Apples to Apples
  • root beer floats
  • minute to win it games
  • Farmer's Market
  • Taffy pull

If you didn't catch the link earlier, here's how and why this all started. I hope this somehow helps your family as well.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: CoDo Fa ReSp

As I read through my Facebook feed, I found that many of my friends had a very tough 2013. I hope 2014 will be better for everyone!

Well, here we are. A new year's begun, and my plan is not set and ready. I'm waiting for what some might call the "muse" to strike. In other words, I feel like I'm on the brink of something wonderful, but I don't quite have a grasp of it yet.

Here's what's sitting in my brain….
I need to have daily tasks that fulfill my desire and get me where I want to be.

Here are the parts of that quote (from the previous post) that are resonating with me:

  • Covenants
  • Doctrine
  • Faith
  • Revelation
  • Spirit

Not just keeping these things for myself but somehow extending them into my family as well. The hope is that by bringing these things more strongly into my life, other things of lesser priority will be eliminated from my life. In other words, the things I need in order to fulfill my mission here will remain, the fluff will disappear.

I don't think it's so much that things will magically poof out of my life, but that I will be directed more clearly on what stays and what goes so that I can make these decisions myself with more clarity and less doubt and concern.

Very briefly, here are my impressions as I look at the above list….

  1. Covenants - The promises I've made with God; the promises He's made back with me. I find these strengthened when I take the sacrament at church on Sundays and when I attend the temple. Clearly, these two things will need to be a bigger part of my life in 2014.
  2. Doctrine - The things taught by Jesus Christ and by prophets who testify of Him. This is a matter of studying scripture and other words of prophets. Scripture study, truly delving into the things my heart catches upon, and General Conference will be a higher priority this year.
  3. Faith - Action! Acting in accordance with belief. Faith is something that needs to be exercised daily. This is where the little daily tasks will come into play. What would Jesus do?….Well, this year, I'd like to find out.
  4. Revelation - This was the topic at church this past Sunday--personal revelation. I want to tap into this better. Heart-felt prayer and then listening for answers are key. 2014 will find me spending more time in my secret place asking for direction.
  5. Spirit - This is kind of out of my control. This is what I hope to have a greater abundance of in my life this year, but it is the result of seeking for it more diligently and intently. I know from past experience, the more I listen and obey those feelings in my heart that come along with ideas in my brain, they grow and increase in number. This is my challenge and ties in with each of the points listed here.

Here's what I gather will be the priorities in 2014 from what I've just worked out (not in any particular order)….
  • More intent/focused taking of the sacrament each week. [Sundays]
  • Regular and increased temple attendance. [Tuesdays]
  • Daily scripture study (feasting) and seeking out the words of the prophets.
  • Intent and involved General Conference participation. [1st weekends in April and October]
  • Relisten to a General Conference talk daily.
  • Daily what-would-Jesus-do? tasks.
  • Daily heart-felt prayer (at least twice a day).
  • Keeping a prayer in my heart.
  • Listen for, seek out, and recognize answers to prayers.
  • Recognize the Spirit verbally or in written form when it is evident. 

For today, I've got my work cut out for me….Got to get out a calendar and plan my tasks. There you go, today's task: devise a nitty-gritty plan while spending some time on my knees.

CoDo Fa ReSp! Getting down to the things of my soul. 2014 is going to be AMAZING!

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